“Darren, it’s Fall here and the colours in the leaves in our town are wonderful. How can I capture their vibrancy? Every time I shoot them I end up with muddy and dull images!” – question by Grant
I love Autumn photography – you’re right the golden and red leaves on a background of lush green grass and beautiful blue skies is a wonderful thing. So how do you capture it? Here’s a few starting points to boost the colours in your Autumn photography (in fact they’re appropriate for boosting the colours in your Spring shots too):
1. Use a Polarising Filter
The saturation of colours that you get with one of these is fantastic. It is particularly useful in getting lovely blue skies but you’ll find that it decreases some of the haze that you often get at this time of year also.
2. Shoot in the Golden Hours
While you can get great results at any time of the day – I love shooting Autumn colours at the end of the day just before sunset when the light is golden. This accentuates the reds and golds even more than normal.
3. Don’t ignore the Overcast Days
Some people keep their cameras in their bags on days where the sun isn’t shining – but they can actually be the best days. I like overcast days because they help create a mood that you can’t get on a sunny day – plus the images are nice generally nice and rich.
4. Look for Contrasts
One way to accentuate the colours in your shots is to think about framing your shots in such a way that the different colours contrast with one another. Golden leaves on a blue sky – a red leaf on a lush green grass etc.
5. Avoid Shooting Into the Sun
Shooting into the sun will result in shadows, lower saturation of colours and lens flare (which further reduces the impact of colours. On Sunny days – keep the sun at your back. If you do have to shoot into the sun use a lens hood or shield your lens with something to avoid lens flare.
6. Play with White Balance Settings
Sometimes Auto mode with White Balance won’t give you the most vibrant results. Warm up your colours by increasing the colour temperature a touch (not too much). You can do this by increasing the kelvin numbers or by selecting a setting like ‘cloudy’ if your camera has semi-auto settings. Read more on White Balance here and here.
7. Warm Up Filters
I don’t use these anymore (I tend to make changes in Photoshop) but in my Film Camera days I did use a warm up filter on occasion to give my shots a slightly warmer glow.
8. Underexpose Your Shots (slightly)
Pull back the exposure on your shots a touch and you’ll find that it gives your colours a slightly deeper saturation. Again – much of this can be done in photoshop – particularly if you’re shooting in RAW.
Of course keep in mind that once you’ve taken your digital shots that you can always boost your shots on your computer afterward. This isn’t the place to go through it (as I mainly focus upon in camera techniques here) but if you shoot in RAW you’ll be in a good position to do some post production on your shots after.